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How does Salman Rushdie present histogriographic metafiction in Midnight's Children?

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ikra | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted January 26, 2011 at 3:52 PM via web

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How does Salman Rushdie present histogriographic metafiction in Midnight's Children?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 26, 2011 at 7:16 PM (Answer #1)

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The style in which Rushdie presents his work helps to bring out its thematic development.  I think that Rushdie's grasp of historiography is driven by the expressions of the subjective.  Rushdie tells the history of the Indian subcontinent before, during, and after Partition through the individual perception of Saleem.  Through this narrative, Rushdie utilizes historiographical elements.  The assembling of history is done so through an individual voice. Saleem is aware of his meta-fictional and meta-historical condition for he understands his unique powers being a child of Midnight and being a historian of this "tryst with destiny."   Yet, this voice is fraught with errors.  Saleem makes many assertions that are contradicted with the record of historical development.  This form of "errata" is exactly what Rushdie seeks to create.  In the end, all historiography is flawed with what it includes and what it excludes.  There can be no super- historical record, no overarching voice that claims to have complete and totalizing authority.  This is where Rushdie's claims of historiography are the most powerful.  Rushdie does not intend his work to become a historical collection of data.  Yet, in the process, Rushdie brings out questions about this collection of data in the first place.  In the final analysis, there is significant question as to how history is collected and assessed, and just like Saleem, that has errors in his retelling, yet knows this is the only retelling out there, we, as individuals of historiography, must live with our own limitations, seeking to bring other voices into the discourse to enlighten and enhance our own.  It is in this where Rushdie's work becomes powerful and almost transcendent in a condition where contingency is the limiting factor for all.

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